Big Ten

Former four-star quarterback Dwayne Lawson commits to Illini after year away from Virginia Tech

dwayne-lawson-1206.jpg
AP

Former four-star quarterback Dwayne Lawson commits to Illini after year away from Virginia Tech

Staring down a decision between Chayce Crouch and Jeff George Jr. as Wes Lunt's successor next season, the Illini perhaps got a new frontrunner Monday.

Dwayne Lawson, a former four-star recruit who spent the 2015 season with Virginia Tech, tweeted that he will be joining Lovie Smith's Illinois program as a junior college transfer next season. He'll have two years of eligibility remaining.

https://twitter.com/dlaw95/status/805950691860738048

Lawson is big and athletic, a dual-threat quarterback at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds much different in style from Lunt, who played his last game in an Illinois uniform two weekends ago in a season-ending loss to Northwestern.

Lawson spent the past season at Garden City Community College in Kansas after leaving the Virginia Tech program in August. He played sparingly as a freshman during the 2015 campaign, appearing in five games and rushing for 55 yards and a touchdown while throwing just nine passes and completing only three for 51 yards.

When Virginia Tech announced Lawson's departure in August, the Roanoke Times reported that he failed a drug test and could have been suspended.

But after a season in Kansas, he's returning to a Power Five conference program, with Illini Inquirer saying Lawson is expected to arrive in Champaign in July after completing his second semester at junior college.

It's certainly a shift in style for the Illini. Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee recruited another dual-threat quarterback, Cameron Thomas — a three-star recruit from Marian Catholic — earlier this year. Remember that McGee's previous stop before coming to Champaign with Smith was Louisville, where he coached current Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson, one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.

While Lawson won't be joining the Illini until right before summer camp, he could be the frontrunner for the starting job. Crouch and George saw a good deal of time this season while Lunt battled injuries. Crouch impressed at times, particularly with his legs, rushing for 137 yards in a loss to Purdue. George struggled mightily seeing his first collegiate action, like when he thre four interceptions in a loss to Wisconsin. He did pass for 140 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Michigan State.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

jeremy_larkin.jpg
USA TODAY

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

anderson.jpg
USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.